Talk to any vendor of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software and their vision is for a broad platform that addresses all of the information and business processes around product development across the entire lifecycle.
It’s an ambitious strategy, which is taking plenty of time to unfold. For the most part, much of the activity—both around PLM technology and customer deployments—is still centered around engineering, helping companies better manage CAD drawings, collaborate on designs with far flung partners, and streamline key processes like engineering change orders.
Yet PLM is trying to break out of those engineering roots, and some recent announcements show the industry is finally making some progress. Next up on the PLM docket: Product portfolio management, which combines project management functions with dashboards and analytical tools designed to help companies manage and optimize their investments in product development projects.
UGS and Arena Solutions are the latest players to add product portfolio management capabilities to their PLM suites. Agile Software Corp. already offers a portfolio management module, while several best-of-breed providers, including Sopheon Corp. and Integrated Development Enterprise Inc. also have standalone packages in this area.
UGS’ new Teamcenter for Portfolio Management serves up a variety of features, including collaborative workflow and approval processes, performance measurement, tracking, and pipeline management functions, and integration with core business systems like ERP and SCM.
As part of its Winter `07 release of Arena PLM, Arena is offering new Project Collaboration functionality to give manufacturers a 360-degree view of the product projects, from the portfolio level to the individual item levels. With the new capabilities, manufacturers can tie project plans to the product record by linking tasks, milestones and deadline information directly to each individual item in a project.